Ferrari boss defends move that sparked Leclerc ‘not fair’ claim

Mattia Binotto watched on in Singapore

Mattia Binotto says Ferrari got it right with Singapore pit-stop policy that saw Charles Leclerc lose dominant position to Sebastian Vettel.

Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto said the unusual circumstances that denied Charles Leclerc a possible hat-trick of Formula One victories were simply “part of racing”.

Monaco-born Leclerc is enjoying a revelatory first season with Ferrari, and back-to-back wins in Belgium and Italy might have been followed by a third at the Singapore Grand Prix.

He began on pole position and held his own, but Ferrari’s pit-stop tactics in a race that was repeatedly interrupted by the safety car left Leclerc behind team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

Leclerc complained over team radio that the move had been “not fair”, as the German came in first for new tyres early on and took advantage of a clear track to seize a rare race-winning chance.

It meant Leclerc had to settle for second place, later admitting he was disappointed the chance to go for the win was effectively taken away. The 21-year-old is likely to have many more opportunities to lead, so the disappointment should soon be chalked down to experience.

Binotto was quick to state it was important the team’s interests were looked after, with the undercut move striking a blow against Mercedes, as he witnessed a third successive Ferrari race triumph.

“The one-two today is very important to us because we achieved it in a different scenario, on a very different type of circuit to Spa-Francorchamps or Monza,” said team principal Binotto.

“The team managed the situation, the strategy and the pit stops very well. The aero update we brought here worked well and, combined with our drivers’ confidence around here and the tyres, that we managed to get to work properly, we actually got more than we expected.

“Well done to Seb, he deserved to win! We had to bring him in first, to protect his position because Max Verstappen was about to pit and that was Seb’s best chance to overtake [Lewis] Hamilton.

“Also, we knew that on the following lap we would have pitted Charles, so it was important not to stop both the drivers on the same lap.

“The undercut was very effective. Seb drove very fast and very well on new tyres in that part of the race and gained the position to go ahead of Charles, which is part of racing.

“For his part, after the spectacular qualifying yesterday, Charles had a solid and consistent race.

“The car is good and is constantly improving and the team is working and reacting well. There’s no doubt about it, we are all very happy with this victory.”

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